Odds are, you’ve never thought of metal speculums as art objects.
Typically, these metal, duck-bill-shaped tools are found on sterile metal trays inside your local OB-GYN office or women’s clinic. But Phoenix artist Cydnei Mallory has a whole box filled with them, and she’s making big plans. She’s one of several artists participating in a project called "10 Artists/2000 Speculums." It’s part of Creative Push, a multimedia art and oral history project about the experience of giving birth.
Creative Push was founded by Forrest Solis, a figurative painter whose work is focused on women’s issues. She’s an associate professor at ASU’s School of Art. And she's represented by Gebert Contemporary in Scottsdale.
Several other artists are involved with Creative Push, including Tempe-based Ashley Czajkowski. Like Mallory, Solis will have work featured in the "10 Artists/2000 Speculums" exhibition, which opens in October at ASU’s Step Gallery.
The rest of the lineup includes Malena Barnhart, Elizabeth Brice-Heames, Sue Chenoweth, Saskia Jorda, Ann Morton, Christy Puetz, Rebecca Blume Rothman, and Jen Urso. Odds are, you’ve seen several of their works around town.
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Ann Morton originated a series of white fabric works with red and blue needlepoint riffs on Trumpisms at the inaugural "Nasty Women: Phoenix Unite" exhibit. Malena Barnhart created a sculpture using a life-size blow up doll and children’s stickers, which was censored by a Phoenix gallery last year. And Saskia Jorda explored themes of home, mobility, and place during her 2016 solo exhibition at Phoenix Art Museum. This time around, they’ll all be starting with the same taboo object.
The speculums were donated by MomDoc, an Arizona-based network of obstetrics and gynecology professionals.
Basically, the project is a creative way of motivating women to get their exams. And it’s inspiring creativity in Arizona artists, too.
“So far, the majority of people I’ve spoken to about the project have cringed,” Mallory says. “I want to make something that will change people’s minds."